High School Sports

George County looks to make statement in softball playoffs

George County pitcher Brooklyn King calls out to teammates during a game April 11. GCHS will open the playoffs Thursday against Terry.
George County pitcher Brooklyn King calls out to teammates during a game April 11. GCHS will open the playoffs Thursday against Terry. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com file

George County has been no stranger to success. The softball Rebels (15-9) have been a mainstay in the Sun Herald’s Top 10 all season and head into this week’s Class 6A playoff opener against Terry having won three of their last four. They’ll face a Bulldogs squad that’s won just four games this season.

With a potential meeting against three-time defending state champion Harrison Central looming in Round 2, GCHS coach Keith Essary said he’s talked to his girls plenty about staying focused on the present and not getting ahead of themselves.

“First thing is don’t overlook anybody,” Essary said Wednesday. “That starts with Terry. On any given day anybody can beat you. I want them to stay focused and sharp and give their best effort.”

Essary feels his team is hitting its stride at the right time. Thursday’s doubleheader in Lucedale begins at 5 p.m. A time has not been set should the series go three games.

“I think they’re hungry and want it,” Essary said.

The Rebels have been tearing the cover off the ball as a team with a collective .353 batting average. GCHS has been a well-rounded team offensively with 12 homers, 14 triples and 41 doubles to go along with 47 stolen bases. The trio of Kaitlyn Passeau, Neely McLeod and Megan Morse lead George County at the plate. Passeau leads all regulars with a .473 average, 10 doubles and 30 RBIs. McLeod isn’t far behind with a .453 average, 22 RBIs and 13 extra-base hits. Morse leads the team with four homers and is hitting .400 with 27 RBIs.

“Kaitlyn Passeau and Neely McCloud are absolutely tearing it up,” Essary said. “I’m looking at 1-9 to help us out. We’re pretty strong throughout the lineup.

“They have their good days and bad days, but if they show up, I’m confident we’ll play well.”

GCHS has a solid tandem of Morse and Brooklyn King in the pitcher’s circle. Essary said Morse, who is 5-5 with a 2.42 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings, will start in Game 1. King, who is 10-3 with a 2.75 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings, will take Game 2.

Other first-round series

Class 6A: Hancock-Meridian, Gulfport-Oak Grove, St. Martin-Pearl

Class 5A: Long Beach-West Jones, Stone-Natchez, Pascagoula-South Jones

Class 4A: Pass Christian-Northeast Lauderdale, Vancleave-Northeast Jones, Poplarville-Florence

Class 3A: None

Class 2A: Our Lady Academy-Union

Class 1A: None

Ocean Springs, Harrison Central, West Harrison, Pearl River Central, Picayune, East Central, St. Patrick and Resurrection all have first-round byes.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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